Kahrl: Framing catcher quality, count on offense

From SABR member Christina Kahrl at ESPN.com on March 30, 2015:

A lot of apologies are made for catchers, and it’s easy to understand why. Whether it’s the busted-up knuckles or the beating their knees take from a career spent crouching half the time, the physical demands of the job inspire automatic sympathy. Finding guys who can withstand that and contribute on offense doesn’t sound easy, and historically it hasn’t been. Whether you want to talk about all-time historically inoffensive players like the dead ball era’s Bill Bergen (career OPS+ of 21) or more recent catch-and-throw heroes like Jose Molina (64) and Jeff Mathis (52), we accept that there are guys whose careers depend on their catching skills and little else. And now, thanks to catcher framing statistics, we’re better prepared than ever before to value those contributions fairly.

So if I told you we’re seeing catchers contributing more on offense in recent years than we have at any point in the past 20, you might be understandably surprised. But if you look at where catcher performance at the plate is relative to the rest of baseball, that’s where we find ourselves today. Taken from Baseball-Reference.com, tOPS+ is just a comparison of how someone or a bunch of someones do compared to the league average, where 100 is average. So, looking at their collective performance season by season, in recent years catchers have been closer to big league average as hitters than at any other time in the past two decades.

Read the full article here: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/56067/framing-catcher-quality-count-on-offense

Originally published: March 30, 2015. Last Updated: March 30, 2015.